Personal Development

Helen Maggie Watson

Psychotherapy and Counselling

Therapy and Personal Development:

For Trainee Counsellors, Trainee Psychotherapists and others

in a helping profession.

(Reduced fees available for students)

Although personal therapy is not a requirement for registration with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP); it is recommended and encouraged by most training organisations and is necessary for membership of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

The person of the therapist contributes significantly towards psychotherapy’s positive outcomes (Aveline, 2005) and her/himself is said to be the instrument of change (Wosket, 2017). Consequently, I believe, like Barnett (2007) that it is vital for psychotherapists and counsellors to explore what we bring to the therapeutic relationship and this includes our unconscious motivations.

What is it about us that makes us want to care for strangers (Owen, 1993)? Guggenbuhl-Craig (1971) warns about the dangers of us deluding ourselves if we limit our awareness to only our selfless motivations. Hawkins and Shohet (2012) argue “it is essential [for psychotherapists] to reflect honestly on the complex mixture of motives that have led them to choose their current profession” (p. 40). Barnett (2007) demands that we undertake our own therapy to avoid the dangers of splitting off our unconscious motivations such that we act out our countertransference with clients.

During training, the Personal Development Group provides one space in which we are able to explore ourselves, discover some blind spots and become more self-aware. In my experience this was a useful arena however, it did not provide the opportunities I required to explore at depth, those parts of myself which I felt needed a safe therapeutic relationship, including examination of my shadow motivations, such as those suggested in the literature (Wosket, 2017; Adams, 2014; Bager-Charleson, 2010; Barnett, 2007; Sussman, 2007; Miller, 1997).

If you would like to enhance your personal development or examine your own unconscious motivations within the safety of a therapeutic relationship then please contact me.

Email:; or phone: 07907 366 523; or fill out the contact form on my contact page.


Aveline, M. (2005). The person of the therapist. Psychotherapy Research, 15(3), 155 – 164.

Bager-Charleson, S. (2010). Why therapists choose to become therapists: A practice-based enquiry. London, United Kingdom:      Karnac Books.

Barnett, M. (2007). What brings you here? An exploration of the unconscious motivations of those who choose to train and work as psychotherapists and counsellors. Psychodynamic Practice, 13(3), 257-274.

Guggenbühl-Craig, A. (1971). Power in the helping professions. Putnam, CT: Spring Publications.

Hawkins, P., & Shohet, R. (2012). Supervision in the helping professions (4th Ed.). Maidenhead, United Kingdom: Open University Press.

Miller, A. (1997). The drama of the gifted child: The search for the true self. London, United Kingdom: Virago.

Owen, I. (1993). On the private life of the psychotherapist and the psychology of caring. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 6(3), 251 – 265.

Sussman, M. B. (2007). A curious calling: Unconscious motivations for practicing psychotherapy (2nd Ed.). Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson.

Wosket, V. (2017). The therapeutic use of self: Counselling practice, research and supervision (Classic Ed). Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

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